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Wait, What? Ep. 107: Hardly Working

Jeff Lester

Australian, as she is spoke–from All-New X-Men #1, by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen

So, I am loathe to admit it…but I totally did that thing where I was running under the gun and so the show notes have a certain je ne sais LEAVE FIFTY THOUSAND IN THE TRASH CAN AT EAST ENTRANCE OF CENTRAL PARK OR SHE IS DEAD quality to them.

Nonetheless, after the jump: show notes!

0:00-4:09:  Greetings!  Opening remarks with just a hint of foreshadowing.  Also, thanks to the generosity of listeners, Jeff has read some Marvel NOW! titles (his first current Marvel titles in several months), and that ends up having a pretty big influence on this week’s podcast. (And sorry for the hiss and crackle there are the very intro–I assure you it doesn’t return.)
4:09-14:09:  In fact, after running down the issues we’ve read ( and as Graeme points out, it really was quite a bumper week for new comics) and get right into discussing some of the overall tone to the Marvel NOW! books.
14:09-20:24: Moving from the tone of Marvel editorial in the Marvel NOW! books, we steer into a bit of the ol’ meta, and talk about the recent news regarding scheduling and art chores on Uncanny Avengers.
20:24-42:09: And because Jeff has now read Uncanny Avengers #1, we talk about that issue a bit. Also? Captain America–when does he work?  Jeff doesn’t really know, but he’s going to talk about it, anyway.
42:09-43:53: Foreshadowing has come to pass!  Tech disaster!  It’s stuff we should edit out but we’re not going to because, uh, of the candor.  Yeah, that’s it! We’re candid!
43:53-51:29: We get back to talking about what we were talking about (Captain America and the Avengers movie), which Graeme uses as a segue to talk about Avengers Assemble #9 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Stefano Caselli.
51:29-51:52: Intermission one! (of one?)
51:52-1:19:10:  And we are back to talk about All-New X-Men #1 by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen.  Who liked it less?  We’re still not sure, but there is a ton of stuff we didn’t like.
1:19:10-1:26:14:  Iron Man #1 by Kieron Gillen and Greg Land!  We are split on this one, but there are things liked by the person who didn’t like it much and things disliked by the person who overall liked it fine..
1:26:14-2:19:54:  Fantastic Four #1 by Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley!  Graeme has read it; Jeff has not. Come for the observations about the FF, stay for our talk about “working harder” as a cornerstone of creative criticism. And what do we really need to have a good superhero comic?  Plot? Motivation? Characterization? “Hard work”?  There is discussion about these very important ideas…and then there is even more shit-talking about Brian Bendis. Also, there is discussion about an AvX #6: Infinite, and quick takes on A+X #1 (Jeff), Saga #7 (Graeme), Batman #14 (Graeme), Suicide Squad #14 (Graeme), Batgirl #14 (Graeme), Saucer Country #9 (Graeme), Zaucer of Zilk #2 (Graeme), and Amazing Spider-Man #698 (Graeme, and with possible spoilers), 2000 AD Prog #1809 (both of us), the brilliant “Choose Your Own Xmas” by Al Ewing and John Higgins from Prog #2012 (Jeff), and Tune by Derek Kirk Kim. (Also, Jeff forgot to talk about Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic but he should have because it was easily the Marvel NOW! book he enjoyed the most.
2:19:54-end:  Closing comments! Since this is getting released the week of Thanksgiving, what are Graeme and Jeff grateful for? Some of the choices are a bit odd (Misfits, really?)  and a bit vague, but it’s a good note on which to end the podcast…and gives me hope that we can totally get Graeme to take his holiday spirit to absolutely insane levels as the holiday season kicks into gear.

This fine episode should be available to those Whatnauts with access to iTunes or the show’s RSS feed.  Otherwise, you are welcome to give it the ol’ audio once-over below:

Wait, What? Ep. 107: Hardly Working.

We’re not recording this week, what with Thanksgiving and all, which means no podcast next week, but…that just gives you more of a chance to catch up with the 100+ episodes we currently have available to you free of charge, yeah?  As always, we hope you enjoy and thank you for listening!

61 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 107: Hardly Working ”

  1. @Dave. Hi. I’m curious: “Aside from a few folks on the net, the overwhelming majority of people found All New X-Men to be a good first issue.”

    If you discount the people online who communicate their opinion of the comic, how do you know that the overwhelming majority liked it? Retail sales and sell-through (not yet known anyway, right?) would suggest interest, not post-purchase enjoyment. So if you’re going to exhort Jeff and Graeme to be “better than this,” shouldn’t you explain how they, too, can learn what the overwhelming, silent majority experiences?

    I really enjoy the podcast. While I have no idea what sort of “existential crisis” our hosts may face, I don’t find them to be “angry fan boys” on the show at all. They explain why a work excites or disappoints them, and they seem to do so on the actual merits of the craft. (Certainly seems so to me, when they discuss a book I’ve also read, whether I agree with their take or not.) And god, their enthusiasm for the medium and general good humor is an upbeat, positive pleasure. From where I sit, at least.

  2. Oh dear, they aren’t having another Existential Crisis are they? That first Existential Crisis Gentle Jeff Lester and Graeme McMillion$ had was okay; well intentioned and kind of ground-breaking even. Now though it’s practically an annual event and it just devalues the whole thing. When Graeme first killed Existential Flash it was surprising and had some impact but now everybody knows it isn’t going to stick. And Infinite Existential Crisis was so terrible that the bit where Gentle Jeff tried to change reality by punching it was actually the highlight. But even then the changes were only illusory; the only reality he changed was the reality of his knuckles which soon healed and the status quo was restored again! While it isn’t a popular opinion I did enjoy the guys’ Final Existential Crisis but there’s still no excuse for that Countdown To Existential Crisis nonsense. To freshen things up they should maybe take a leaf out of Marvel’s events and just fight each other all the time.
    (I’m just joking. Please don’t fight each other all the time! That’s why I ran away to join the circus in the first place!)

  3. “What I’m arguing against is the idea that he has nothing to offer or that his approach is antithetical to good comics.”

    And who says Bendis has NOTHING to offer? Who says his approach produces NOTHING that anyone could enjoy? Who says Bendis has NEVER written a good comic? Anyone?

    So, who are you arguing with?


  4. No one. I’m simply arguing against the idea implied by statements like this:

    [This was in response to my post about his editors not correcting what some view as unforgivable flaws in Mr. Bendis’s work, and how some may not see them that way.]

    “Not really. There are always issues of personal preference, of course, but in the thousands of years that human beings have been telling stories, certain truths have been uncovered. Big plot holes are big plot holes, for example, whether or not the audience cares about them. Characters who all sound exactly the same when they talk is also bad writing, again, even if audience members convince themselves it doesn’t matter.”

    This presents a system of objective appraisal that I don’t think would work even if it were possible to construct (we’d all have to agree, right?).

    Over those thousands of years you mentioned, things like “dialogue” and “plot holes” are incredibly recent ideas, so I don’t think they’ve been codified in quite the way you suggest.

    But I do feel like we’re talking in circles, so I’ll bow out of this one now. Thanks for your thoughtful responses!

  5. I just love the point where you two guys (Jeff and Graeme) are discussing how Bendis loves to just repeat dialog, leading to Graeme stating –
    “You have to repeat yourself, twice”
    (which is funny by itself)and then Jeff follows with – “Yeah, Yeah. Exactly. Exactly.

    Just a polite and friendly jab at you guys. As always, great ‘show’ and I can’t wait for the next one.

  6. “And who says Bendis has NOTHING to offer? Who says his approach produces NOTHING that anyone could enjoy? Who says Bendis has NEVER written a good comic? Anyone?”

    I used to think Bendis was the hope of the industry I liked his stuff so much – Goldfish, Jinx, Fire, Fortune And Glory, Torso – the guy had an approach I thought would take the world by storm. (Well, except for that middle part in Jinx, where he decided to publish his writing portfolio. What the hell?)

    Unfortunately, when he got his chance at Marvel, he wrote like that for about 18months before giving up on the idea that plots, scenes or character arcs had to go anywhere, and just writing any old shit in the blandest possible style. (Even Daredevil and Ultimate Spider-Man were running low by year three, and I never bought into Alias being any kind of good – any acclaim that got was nerds discovering crime fiction with a female protagonist. I made it to the end of the second arc of Powers before giving up on that one-trick pony.
    People used to talk about how strong his dialogue was, but now he’s accused of having a tin-ear and making every character sound alike.
    His early work was also notable for it’s innovative storytelling – he experimented with layouts and techniques. Been awhile since I’ve heard that about him – last I remember is Mighty Avengers, where they tried to make a deal out of the fact he was using thought bubbles! Thought-bubbles in a comic? Outrageous!
    People might enjoy his regular output, but I reckon you’ll be looking more at the people who enjoy Doug Liman films or Stephanie Meyer novels, not people with discerning taste. (Except Chad Nevett, but I’m still waiting for his “Gotcha!” on that one). Ain’t nothing wrong with liking some trash, only when you then get antsy that some people see it for the trash it is.

    So yeah, I won’t say the guy has never written a good comic, but it’s been close to a decade since he has, so I’d at least be looking in the direction of his approach being anti-ethical to good comics, or considering that he was just the guy in the right place at the right time – as he actually teaches comics at a university, I think his output as well as his approach is a-ok for harsh critical review.

  7. Ben Lipman makes an interesting point: why does anyone, either creator or fan, make a big deal about the disappearance or reappearance of thought bubbles? First person narration captions are basically the same thing as thought bubbles. They just changed the shape of the container holding the words and writers convince themselves they’re now innovating the medium.

  8. back @Feff,

    OMG you’re right, there is a lot of embellishment there. On the other hand, if the point of the scene is to make me want to go buy a set of Marvel’s 60’s Xmen reprints then it certainly succeeded :)

  9. Lol Feff… Wanted To Buy an edit button and a cup of coffee.

  10. JohnK: At least they’re not having Secret Existential Wars. Those kind of suck. Especially when Gentle Jeff Lester started wearing all black and had to teach Graeme McMillion$ how to pee in the toilet. That was just embarrassing to read.

  11. @gary: What a charming tableau your words have painted, I may never sleep again! Cheers!

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